United Kingdom

Drivers CHASE fuel tankers and queue from 5am to fill-up

Drivers have queued through the night for fuel with so-called 'tanker w***ers' even racing to follow trucks to petrol stations as the crisis saw up to nine in ten forecourts run dry leaving NHS staff without fuel and schools planning a return to online learning because teachers can't fill up

Boris Johnson could call in the Army to deliver fuel to petrol stations across Britain amid a crisis that has seen competition laws suspended to allow businesses such as Shell and BP to share drivers.  

Desperate motorists have even started following fuel delivery drivers to petrol stations, earning the nickname 'tanker w***ers' from critics, as panic buying continues across the UK with fights even breaking out at the pumps. TomTom traffic data revealed that congestion is down today, suggesting that many more people are working from home.

One Twitter user said: 'My brother in law is a lorry driver and delivers fuel. He’s on the road now and there are people following him - literally tracking his every turn - in cars. He says it’s like end of days'. He added: 'I worried it might be really scary for him, but he just thinks they’re all kn*bs'.

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage. 

Schools have said they will return to the online classrooms used in lockdown if teachers can't get to work - with some parents also unable to drive - while many petrol stations are now prioritising NHS workers in special two-hour slots where they must show ID to fill up.

One school in Surrey wrote to parents over the weekend saying: “The current petrol crisis could potentially disrupt school next week. The ability of staff and pupils to get to school may be compromised and there may also be issues with our food deliveries.  Clearly, we have no desire to go back online so soon after the challenges of the last couple of years but we cannot exclude the possibility that it may be necessary'.

One headteacher tweeted: 'This is actually going to be a problem. I don’t have any fuel myself and all the stations in my area are out of diesel. Most of my teachers commute further than ten miles to work'.   

The new plan to bring in the Army case as:

One driver finally managed to get fuel at the third attempt today as experts said up to 90% of forecourts are now empty

Long queues before dawn at petrol stations were common across the UK today as the fuel crisis continues

Desperate drivers have even started following fuel delivery drivers to petrol stations, earning the nickname 'tanker w***ers' from critics as panic buying continues across the UK

Vehicles queue to refill at a Texaco fuel station in south London on September 26 as ministers are set to consider mobilising the Army 

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage (pictured: Queues at Texaco in south London) 

A motorist fills a container with fuel at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Alperton, West London as it reopens on Sunday

And Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has agreed to implement a measure to temporarily exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998, as part of a plan called the Downstream Oil Protocol, for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply.

Officials said the measure will make it easier for industry to share information so that they can prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.   

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents 5,500 independent stations, told LBC some petrol brands are seeing as many as 90% of their sites running dry. 

He said: "We did a straw poll yesterday morning of a number of our members who have around 200 sites between them.

"Fifty per cent of those we spoke to said their sites were dry and some actually said 90 per cent of their sites were dry, so it is on a company-by-company basis and almost on a brand-by-brand basis because some oil companies are still relatively okay in terms of deliveries."

When asked about possible Government plans to grant temporary visas to get more HGV drivers, Mr Balmer said: "We are a fuel retailing trade association, not a logistics company, but I would have thought anything like that is going to help, but from what I hear maybe that's not enough, so I know the Government are looking at other measures such as drafting in military drivers.

"What we're hoping is a lot of people have filled up over the weekend, a lot of people only fill up once a month, that might give us some respite to start to replenish stocks over the next few days."

A suspension to competition law to assist with fuel supplies would be "very welcome", Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Madderson said that in Northern Ireland "there does not seem to be a problem at all with supply and retail outlets, so the problem is confined to the mainland".

He said: "With the problem of dry sites, we're really talking more about the concentrated urban areas than we are the rural areas at this stage".

He said dry sites "are being restocked at the present time but the number of tankers that they're receiving are below the number that they need to be properly restocked at their normal level of between 40% and 50%".

A suspension in competition law, he said, "possibly allows the suppliers to put fuel into their competitors' sites ... and if so, the increased flexibility that that would give the supplying industry would be very welcome".

He added: "It will be complicated." Asked if the move is a game-changer, he said: "No, it's just one of the helps."

Kevin Hughes, manager at Chaddesley fuel station in Kidderminster, told BBC Breakfast this morning that he had seen queues of at a least a quarter of a mile last week.

He said: ‘It all got very, very silly on Friday. We've had a very, very tough time over the past 18 months, but not seen anything like this at all.

‘Massive queues - there is no reason to panic buy. We have got plenty of fuel. Most of the customers have been very, very good, but trying to martial them and keep the road open has been interesting.

‘Nobody’s putting in £5 worth. It’s just a case of trying to get people parked up properly, moving along and organised and get them through as quickly as we can. The team in the shop have been absolutely flat out getting people through and that’s all we can do.

He added that the fuel station was prioritising NHS workers, saying: ‘We have done. Last Saturday evening we had an hour and a half when we stayed open extra and the uptake on that was absolutely brilliant.

‘The comments we’ve had on the Facebook page have been wonderful. Depending on how the situation goes, we’re going to assess if we need to do it. So we don’t know what’s going to happen today – it’s going to be interesting.’

Boris Johnson could call in the Army to deliver fuel to petrol stations across Britain amid a crisis that has seen competition laws suspended and nine in ten forecourts run dry. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has agreed to implement a measure to temporarily exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998 for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London. Picture date: Sunday September 26

Shocking footage from last week shows panic buyers punch and kick at each other during a violent brawl at an Esso petrol forecourt in Sidlesham, Chicester

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage (Pictured: An army tanker in the last fuel crisis in September 2000) 

Ministers are understood to be looking at what additional training military drivers with existing HGV licences would need to take to drive fuel tankers, which require additional safety qualifications. 

Mr Johnson is set to gather senior cabinet members on Monday to scrutinise 'Operation Escalin' after oil giant BP said that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, the Guardian reports.

It will come following a weekend of chaos that saw an ambulance hit a car in a petrol queue and ministers suspending competition laws in a bid to beat back the crisis. 

And footage filmed in Bromley, Greater London, showed an ambulance being driven by paramedics bumping into the back of the car as paramedics tried to manoeuvre past a queue for a Shell petrol station which had spilled onto the road.  

The paramedics had to stop to exchange details with the driver of the damaged car and a different ambulance had to attend the emergency.   

Police also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel. Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill.' 

A joint statement from energy and logistics companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and Wincanton said: 'We are in regular contact with ministers and policy officials and it was reassuring to meet with the Business Secretary again on Sunday evening and discuss further action.' It also reassured drivers there is 'not a national shortage of fuel'. 

Kevin Hughes, manager at Chaddesley fuel station in Kidderminster, told BBC Breakfast this morning that he had seen queues of at a least a quarter of a mile last week.

He said: 'It all got very, very silly on Friday. We've had a very, very tough time over the past 18 months, but not seen anything like this at all. Massive queues - there is no reason to panic buy. We have got plenty of fuel. Most of the customers have been very, very good, but trying to martial them and keep the road open has been interesting.

'Nobody's putting in £5 worth. It's just a case of trying to get people parked up properly, moving along and organised and get them through as quickly as we can. The team in the shop have been absolutely flat out getting people through and that's all we can do.

He added that the fuel station was prioritising NHS workers, saying: 'We have done. Last Saturday evening we had an hour and a half when we stayed open extra and the uptake on that was absolutely brilliant. The comments we've had on the Facebook page have been wonderful. Depending on how the situation goes, we're going to assess if we need to do it. So we don't know what's going to happen today – it's going to be interesting.'

Government officials have given the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage - with the UK said to be 100,000 HGV drivers short, according to the Road Haulage Association.

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill'

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Cars queue for a Tesco petrol station to reopen in Camberley, Surrey, after it was refueled. The Government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of UK industries

Drivers queue for fuel on the A14 near Bosworth services in Cambridge on Sunday as desperate motorists rushed to petrol stations

Government officials have green lit plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage - with the UK said to be 100,000 HGV drivers short, according to the Road Haulage Association. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Camberley, Surrey

Paul Chuckle claimed on Twitter that a station had advertised a lower price than the one he had to pay

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps took aim at the group, accusing them of sparking the panic buying crisis.

But he also warned that the lorry driver shortage could go on 'for years', despite the Government doubling the number of tests that can be carried out in a bid to quickly boost driver numbers.    

Oil giant BP also said that nearly a third of their petrol stations in Britain have run out of fuel despite continued pleas for motorists to 'continue as normal'. 

BP, which operates 1,200 sites in Britain, said in a statement: 'With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30 per cent of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel.'

Mr Kwarteng said: 'We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption. While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.

'This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised. We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.'  

An orderly queue as staff at the BP direct motorists to a vacant fuel pump at the Boreham Interchange on the A12 near Chelmsford in Essex

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle on Sunday afternoon

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel. Large queues have formed on Sunday morning. One worker was seen refilling the tanks at an Esso petrol station

Motorists fill up their vehicles with fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

A 'no diesel' sign has been placed outside a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London, on September 26

Britain's second biggest oil refinery faces collapse as fuel crisis cripples nation: Stanlow plant chiefs hold crisis talks with HMRC over £223m VAT bill 

Britain's second biggest oil refinery is in crisis talks with tax officials amid fears it could be on the brink of collapse.

Bosses behind Stanlow Oil Refinery, in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, are in urgent talks with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a £223million VAT payment.

The refinery, which has been under financial strain during the Covid pandemic, needs to start repaying the bill this week unless it can agree a new deal, according to the Sunday Times. 

Owned by the billionaire Ruia brothers, Shashi and Ravi, through their company Essar Oil UK, the refinery supplies about a sixth of Britain's road fuel. It is also supplies jet fuel for Manchester and Birmingham airports.

Around 900 people are employed directly at the refinery and around 800 contractors also work on site.

The refinery's VAT bill built up during the pandemic under the Government's Covid VAT deferral scheme. 

The scheme, launched in March last year, allowed firms to defer VAT payments to help businesses stay afloat during the first Covid lockdown.

But businesses were ordered to either pay back the money by March 2021, join an interest free instalment scheme stretching to June, or make arrangements with HMRC to push back the payments.

Essar Oil UK is said to have taken advantage of the scheme, to the tune of £356million. 

It entered into a time-to-pay ('TTP') arrangement with HMRC for a total of £770million in April 2021. 

The company says it has paid back £547million leaving a balance of £223 million - which must be paid by January next year. 

Payments are due to begin this week. They are due to coincide with an end to the Government's suspension on winding-up petitions. 

However the company says the economic recovery has been 'slower than predicted' and it will therefore not make the payment and that it was in talks to 'modify that schedule'.

'Therefore EOUK in discussions with HMRC over a short extension to make those deferred VAT payments,' a spokesman told MailOnline.

'Those discussions are positive and EOUK looks forward to a resolution soon,' the spokesman added.

A fight also broke out between moped drivers at a petrol station in north London and was captured and shared online as motorists queued to fill up. 

The footage, shared on Twitter, showed one driver running and jump-kicking another at a BP garage in Haverstock Hill, near Camden as motorists pack out petrol stations across the country. 

The two men were already seemingly being separated before the physical fight began, with one trying to use his crash helmet to attack the other. 

It comes after a four-man fight broke out at an Esso garage in Chichester, West Sussex yesterday. 

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage.  

One motorist said: 'I have been driving around Croydon, Bromley, Westerham, Oxted and Godstone for two hours and passed over twenty garages.

'Eighteen were completely shut and two had queues so long, you couldn't even join them.' 

London Ambulance Service told MailOnline: 'We can confirm that one of our ambulances was involved in a collision with another vehicle on Bromley Hill at approximately 6.55pm on 25 September while on a blue light call to a patient.

'As a result of the incident, the ambulance was out of service for a short amount of time and a different ambulance crew attended the patient.'

It comes as Mr Shapps claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages. 

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'. 

He said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country 'will come to an end' because soon 'everyone's cars will be more or less filled up'. 

But he said that it would take a 'considerable amount of time' to fix the issue, which he said had been going on for five years and was also a problem in EU countries such as Poland. 

Speaking on Times Radio's T&G show, Mr Shapps said: 'It is certainly going to take a considerable amount of time to alleviate this long term shortage of drivers which has gone on for five years.

'If you talk to the boss of Logistics UK, he came into the job five years ago and the first problem on his desk was a shortage of drivers. It's never changed. So that's going to take time to unwind.'

A motorist fills up a car at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London on September 26

Turkey farmers see 250% surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner

Turkey farmers are reporting a surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner amid fears of a poultry shortage. 

There have been unprecedented numbers of orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year.

This panic buying surge has seen some farms receive more than five times the number of orders as in 2020. Several farms are reporting 250 per cent surges compared to figures from this time last year. 

Meanwhile the boss of the UK's Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) blamed Brexit for Britain's supply chain crisis. 

The recent closure of fertiliser factories, due to a spike in natural gas prices, has also led to disruption in food production.

The closure of the plants, one of which has since reopened as part of a Government deal, has led to a decrease in food-grade carbon dioxide - used to stun animals for slaughter, as well as in packing meat, dairy and salads. 

Fears over a possible shortage has now led to a surge in ordering good quality turkeys to prepare for Christmas, according to the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) which represents the high-end turkey market.

To cater for the increase in demand in turkeys, many farmers have had to start taking orders earlier than usual with one Cornish farm having customers push to order as early as August.

Supermarket Tesco has already warned that a shortage of delivery drivers, which is causing empty shelves, could lead to panic buying across Britain in the lead up to Christmas.

Asked whether it would be months or years before the crisis was resolved, Mr Shapps said: 'It will take months to years to fully unwind. But the short term issue can actually resolve itself immediately, because we don't actually have a shortage (of fuel)...

'I can't give you an exact day and hour because it does depend on millions of people's behaviour when it comes to the petrol pumps as well.' 

It came as experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'. 

There is an estimated shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers in the UK freight sector. 

The Government has announced plans to offer 5,000 three-month visas to foreign lorry drivers in a short term bid to ease pressure on supply chains. 

The announcement came after scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations as the shortage of fuel tanker drivers forced some retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales. 

The British Retail Consortium and the British Chambers of Commerce criticised the scope of the measures set out by the Government which were seen by some as a step back from Boris Johnson's stated ambition to create a high-wage, high-skilled post-Brexit economy.

It also came as turkey farmers reported a surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner amid fears of a poultry shortage. 

There have been unprecedented numbers of orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year.

This panic buying surge has seen some farms receive more than five times the number of orders as in 2020. Several farms are reporting 250 per cent surges compared to figures from this time last year. 

Meanwhile the boss of the UK's Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) blamed Brexit for Britain's supply chain crisis. 

The recent closure of fertiliser factories, due to a spike in natural gas prices, has also led to disruption in food production.

The closure of the plants, one of which has since reopened as part of a Government deal, has led to a decrease in food-grade carbon dioxide - used to stun animals for slaughter, as well as in packing meat, dairy and salads. 

Fears over a possible shortage has now led to a surge in ordering good quality turkeys to prepare for Christmas, according to the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) which represents the high-end turkey market.

Supply issue threatens Christmas: The classic Christmas dinner could be decimated, with turkey, pigs in blankets, potatoes and brussel sprouts all at risk by ongoing supply and distributions issues, as well as a potential CO2 crisis. Meanwhile, toys, vinyl and books could also experience shortages - with experts even warning of Christmas trees not being available

Fuel campaigner's home besieged by drivers after pranksters turned it into Shell garage on GoogleMaps 

A fuel campaigner's home has been besieged by drivers - after pranksters turned it into a Shell garage on GoogleMaps.

Howard Cox, the public face of a campaign calling for fairer fuel prices, received more than 70 calls from motorists on the hunt for fuel.

The jokers registered his home address in Kent on Google and marked it up as a Shell garage - complete with picture of a forecourt and review.

Mr Cox, who fronts FairFuel UK, said: 'I got home the night before last and this bloke asked if I had any petrol there.

'I was like 'what?'. It sounds funny but when you get 70 calls it makes you annoyed.

'I've done lots of media appearances recently about the petrol crisis so my name is out there and some idiot has gone out there thinking it's funny.

'It's not funny at all. You just don't do that sort of thing.

'It's probably a militant environmentalist or militant cyclist - it's those sorts of people who do this sort of thing.'

FairFuel UK has long campaigned for fairer prices for UK motorists at the pump and it is not the first time Mr Cox has been targeted for his activism.

He explained: 'I've had faeces through the door, wrapped up in a cycle glove, and things like that.

'I've been subject to a lot of this, and all I'm trying to do is help UK drivers get a better deal.'

Mr Cox, meanwhile, does not believe government plans to offer thousands of visas to overseas lorry drivers will 'even touch the sides' and does not think think the problem will be short lived

He explained: 'The scaremongering by Grant Shapps saying don't panic is obviously going to create panic.

'We know that from the toilet roll problems during Covid.

'I think it will still be pretty bad for a couple of days but in three or four days everything will be back to normal.

'Petrol and diesel are in full supply - it's just the driver shortage.'

To cater for the increase in demand in turkeys, many farmers have had to start taking orders earlier than usual with one Cornish farm having customers push to order as early as August.

Supermarket Tesco has already warned that a shortage of delivery drivers, which is causing empty shelves, could lead to panic buying across Britain in the lead up to Christmas.

Kate Martin, a Cornish turkey farmer and chair of the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) said: 'Last year we saw record demand, particularly for smaller turkeys, due to an increase in smaller gatherings and a desire to make Christmas lunch extra special, despite the restrictions.

'This year, many of our members have increased their flocks significantly to help meet growing demand for quality turkeys.

'While there will be more Golden Standard turkeys available this year, the orders we are currently seeing surpass anything we have ever seen before.'

It comes as Derbyshire-based EVCL Chill Ltd called in administrators, with around 400 jobs said to be at risk.

Administrators PwC said acute driver shortages had added to the company's challenges.

EVCL Chill, which is based in Alfreston, has sites across the UK including Daventry, Rochdale, Crick and Penrith.

It employed more than 1,000 staff in warehousing and HGV driving roles. Around 650 employees had been transferred 'to key customers', administrators said.

Around 400 staff are said to be 'at risk' and will be addressed about the company's future on Monday, saw PwC.

The company turned over £167million in the period up to December 2020.

But administrators say the firm had lost key customers in recent years. The company's issues had been compounded by the UK's HGV driver shortage, according to PwC.

Meanwhile, community nursing and care workers are also being impacted by the crisis, according to union chiefs.

They say members have warned that staff may struggle to get into work or to their clients on Monday due to being unable to fuel their vehicles.

Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, took aim at the Government over its handling. 

He told MailOnline:'There is no plan in Number 10, only panic - and it's piling pressure on workers and services at every level.

'The run on the forecourts is unnecessarily affecting frontline workers in our ambulance and home care services and the rising cost of energy will cause distress for the lowest paid households trying to make ends meet.

'We need to ensure emergency and community services are properly resourced as a priority and that employers allow more flexibility on working from home to reduce the strain on this avoidable crisis.' 

Grant Shapps claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London amid the developing fuel crisis

Motorists queue for petrol and diesel fuel at a Shell petrol station in Fleet, west of London on September 26

Frustrated motorists trying to get past the queue that blocked the road as motorists queued for fuel at Tesco in Danbury, Essex

Mr Shapps insisted there is 'plenty' of petrol as he urged motorists to refrain from panic buying. He told Sky News there had been some 'pretty irresponsible briefing' by one of the road haulage associations 'which has helped spark a crisis'. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle on Sunday afternoon

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

xx 

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